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The far left seeks equality of outcome and the dismantlement of all forms of social stratification. Most far leftists seek to abolish all forms of hierarchy, particularly the inequitable distribution of wealth and power. The far left seeks a society in which everyone is provided equal economic and social opportunities, and no one has more wealth or power than anyone else.
The far left typically believes that inegalitarian systems must be overthrown through revolution in order to establish egalitarian societies, while the centre left works within the system to achieve egalitarianism.
In societies that tolerate dissent, far-left groups usually participate in the democratic process to advance their goals. The far left demands radical changes to dismantle unequal societies, including confiscation of wealth that is concentrated in a small elite, and redistribution of that wealth in an egalitarian manner.
Definitions and characteristics
Dr. Luke March of the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, defines the "far left" in Europe as those that place themselves to the left of social democracy, which they see as insufficiently left-wing. The two main sub-types are the so-called "radical left", for their desire for fundamental change to the capitalist system while accepting of democracy, and the "extreme left" who are more hostile to liberal democracy and denounce any compromise with capitalism. March sees four major subgroups within contemporary European far-left politics: communists, democratic socialists, populist socialists and social populists.
In France, the term extrême-gauche ("far left") is a generally accepted term for political groups that the leftmost the French Communist Parties (such as Trotskyists, Maoists, Anarchists and New Leftist).
In Germany, Eckhard Jesse, a political scientist, regards different kinds of Trotskyists, anarcho-syndicalists, anarcho-communists, National Communists, Authoritarian socialists, Maoists and Autonomists as local "far left".These people include both Authoritarianists and Libertarianists.
McKlosky and Chong further assert that in the USA, the far-left groups they studied are deeply estranged from American society and highly critical of what they perceive as the spiritual and moral degeneration of American institutions, they view American society as dominated by conspiratorial forces that are working to defeat their ideological aims.
In the United States, John George and Laird Wilcox have identified the Communist Party USA, Socialist Workers Party, Black Panther Party, Students for a Democratic Society, and Progressive Labor Party as some of the groups active on what he refers to as the "far-left".
Several far-left movements have used violence to achieve their goals, from the French revolution's Reign of Terror, to mass murders committed by the Communist regimes of leaders such as Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot.
Even more deaths under far-left regimes have occurred as a result of Marxist schemes of revolutionary transformations of society through forced labour, which has led to malnutrition, disease and mass death, considered genocide by some scholars.
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